Sevian Still In Contention After Beating Swiercz

Sevian Still In Contention After Beating Swiercz


Tensions are sky-high in St. Louis after a high-voltage 11th round of the 2022 U.S. Chess Championship featured three decisive results. GM Sam Sevian scored a blistering win over GM Dariusz Swiercz with black to move into third place, while the leader and second-placed player, GMs Fabiano Caruana and Ray Robson, drew their games. With one point separating first from third, it is likely that one of these players will win the title.

The women’s event saw leader FM Jennifer Yu and second-placed GM Irina Krush storm to victories, meaning that their clash against each other in round 12 will become the most important game of this year’s championship. Three other wins transpired on Monday including one for FM Thalia Cervantes, who moved to 7/11.

Round 12 of the event will start on October 18 at 11 a.m. PT/20:00 Central European.

Since round seven, Caruana’s tournament has quietened down and he seems to prefer the professional approach of drawing his way to his second U.S. championship crown. While the U.S. number one has progressed unscathed and is sitting pretty on 7.5/11, two players have been creeping up on him and may challenge him in the last two games.

With one white left, the pressure on Caruana is mounting. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Sevian’s game was a Ruy Lopez Opening: Morphy Defense that was a theoretical slugfest where the first novelty came more than 20 moves into the game. Sevian was able to navigate the waters soundly before tricking Swiercz with an intermezzo rook sacrifice that ended in disaster for Swiercz. Sevian’s 6.5/11 gives him a great chance to replicate his heroics from last year where he finished equal first alongside Caruana and GM Wesley So.

GM Rafael Leitao has given his expert analysis of the crucial game of the day below.

Robson, who appears to be waiting until the final rounds to strike, almost went awry against GM Awonder Liang. With the white pieces, Robson kept things as tame as possible but played several inaccuracies that gave his opponent a chance to press. Liang said he was playing his “riskiest opening yet” but missed the mark at the critical point of the game and a draw by repetition ensued on the 34th move.

GM Hans Niemann and So were the other winners of the round, the former living up to his interview where he claimed that he had a good chance to make a comeback based on favorable pairings. GM Alex Lenderman had things under control but missed a key king move that resulted in him falling into a mating net. 

The defending champion So’s victory over GM Elshan Moradiabadi was clean and a sign of a return to form but the surge came too late and So can only try to finish strongly in a largely forgettable tournament.

GM Leinier Dominguez also made up for his low average of moves so far (due to that 10-move victory over Moradiabadi!) and put in a titanic effort to win against GM Christopher Yoo in 131 moves! The result has left Dominguez in fourth place on 6.5/11 and continued his unbeaten streak.

Dominguez trying his best to play the shortest and longest games of the tournament. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

U.S. Championship | All Games Round 11

Round 11 Open Standings

The leaders of the women’s event have made it clear that draws will not be enough to win this year’s edition and five decisive results in round 11 evidenced this. Yu and Krush took different approaches with the black pieces in round 11, the former playing the solid Petroff Defense, while Krush opted for imbalance in an attempt to close the gap.

Krush getting her eye in ahead of an all-important penultimate round. Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

Yu got more than she bargained for deep into an equal rook and pawn endgame with a blunder coming from her opponent on move 43. Yu took full advantage and outplayed WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova, the untimely blunder leaving the tournament leader with momentum heading into her showdown with Krush.

Krush’s triumph was less controlled but her experience reigned supreme when push came to shove, the eight-time champion finding all the right moves en route to victory.

Much like the open championship, a third contender has emerged above the rest in Cervantes. The Cuban-born FM’s winning streak has deservedly placed her in third spot on 7/11. Cervantes didn’t need to display as much flair as in her recent conquests but did keep the tactical sharpness up, executing a knight maneuver that left FM Ashritha Eswaran clutching at straws.

Cervantes has won her last four games and is one of three realistic title contenders! Photo: Lennart Ootes/Saint Louis Chess Club.

FM Alice Lee was left ruing her fortunes after missing a win for the second round in a row. Against WGM Tatev Abrahamyan, Lee found herself in a rook versus bishop ending but brought her rook too close to the action. Wins in either of these games would have launched Lee into third place (or higher if both were won).

Ahead of their momentous confrontation in round 12, Yu stated that her game against Krush must be treated as a “must-win” encounter and is buoyed by her positive record (two wins and one draw) against her toughest challenger yet.

U.S. Women’s Championship | All Games Round 11

Round 11 Women’s Standings

The 2022 U.S. Chess Championships take place October 4-20, 2022 in St. Louis to determine the next chess champions of the United States. The 2022 U.S. Women’s Championship is being held concurrently. Both events have the same format: 14 players, 13-round tournament with a $250,500 prize fund for the U.S. Championship, and $154,000 for the U.S. Women’s Championship.

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